MISSING out on his school formal and graduation was a small price to pay for Kyezaya Namai-Sabatino, who was on Friday night named as winner of the Australian School-based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Award.
It was a whirlwind day for the Napranum resident, who was in Hobart with his proud parents and one dedicated uncle.
In the morning, he dialled into Western Cape College’s graduation assembly, appearing on the big screen as his peers took to the stage, while that evening he was crowned with national honours, having taken out the same gong in both FNQ and Queensland.
“It was a beautiful event,” said Kyezaya of the gala function on the Apple Isle.
“It was a bit nerve-wracking to get up on stage and see the whole audience from a different perspective, but it was a great night.”
The proud Warranggu and Wuthathi man and vice-captain at Western Cape College recently completed his school-based traineeship in diesel fitting with Rio Tinto Weipa and will start an apprenticeship in the same field with the company in 2024.
He is the first Rio Tinto Weipa school-based trainee to progress to the Australian Training Awards.
Kyezaya believes his pursuit of a school-based traineeship has built a strong foundation for life and set him on a path to success.
“Working for Rio Tinto has been a great experience; I felt welcomed at all work sites, and it has benefited me in many ways. It has helped me by getting my name out there and given me the tools I need to become a successful person in life,” he said.
Rio Tinto Weipa Operations general manager Shona Markham congratulated Kyezaya on his achievement.
“We are incredibly proud of Kyezaya and all that he has achieved. We look forward to supporting his career as he transitions into an apprenticeship.”
Kyezaya hopes to inspire the next generation of local high school students to consider a career in the trades.
“I hope I can inspire local students by showing them what the school-based traineeship has allowed me to achieve. I also hope to motivate them to go down the same path as I did,” he said.
The 18-year-old thanked his family for their guidance and said he was overwhelmed by the efforts of his uncle, who drove all the way from Mackay to Hobart to be there for the awards night.
“He was so keen to be there,” Kyezaya said.
Looking to the future Kyezaya aspires to become a qualified tradesman. He has some advice for local high school students also considering a career in trades.
“Always put yourself out there and never settle for less,” he said.
“If you want something because you’re passionate about it, keep chasing it until you get it, go the extra mile and never ever give up.”
Western Cape College principal Dan Tonon said: “This achievement recognises Kyezaya and his exceptional abilities, but also recognises the collaborative work of Western Cape Collage, MRAEL and Rio Tinto who come together to prepare local students for their future career pathways and opportunities.”
Also in attendance in Hobart was Shaniqua Burke, a finalist in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year Award.
While the Kowanyama and Napranum product missed out, her proud grandfather Robbie Sands said it was still a special night.
“I think she learnt so much from the experience,” he said.
“We were proud of her and I know that everyone in Napranum and Kowanyama are proud of her.”